Dominion Strategies

What is Dominion?

I was recently introduced to a game called Dominion. As any nerd would do, I wrote a program that pits different strategies against each other over thousands of games and collects statistics about how each strategy did. This is some early data.

Note that this entire post will only make sense if you know how to play the game.


These are the three strategies I’ve coded so far:

  • BigMoney
    • Summary: Build up your buying power and buy provinces whenever you can
    • Action phase: No action cards to use
    • Buy phase:
      • If it has 0-2 buying power: Buy nothing
      • 3-5: Buy silver
      • 6-7: Buy gold
      • 8+: Buy province
  • 1Smithy
    • Summary: Do the same thing as BigMoney, but buy a smithy at the first opportunity
    • Action phase: Whenever the smithy is drawn, use it to draw 3 more cards
    • Buy phase:
      • 0-2: Buy nothing
      • 3: Buy silver
      • 4-5: If it has no smithies, buy one; otherwise, buy silver
      • 6-7: Buy gold
      • 8+: Buy province
  • GardenWorkshop
    • Summary: Using workshops to gain more cards, buy lots of cards to maximize the points from gardens
    • Action phase: Whenever a workshop is drawn, use it to:
      • Gain another workshop until there are no more
      • If there are no more workshops, gain a garden
      • If there are no more gardens, gain an estate
    • Buy phase:
      • 0-1: Buy copper
      • 2: Buy estate
      • 3: Buy workshop
      • 4+: If it has no workshop, buy one; otherwise, buy garden


I pitted each of the strategies against each other over 10,000 games and plotted the results below.

  • The blue line shows the victory points of the first strategy as the games progressed
  • The red line shows the victory points of the second strategy as the games progressed
  • The green bars show how many games out of those 10,000 actually had that many turns. When the green bar is low, that means the blue and red lines don’t mean much because the sample size is small. This means that you should just pay attention to the blue and red lines up until the green bars start to fall below 10,000.

1Smithy vs. BigMoney

Deck stats:

1Smithy BigMoney
Average Buying Power: 32.8 36.1
Average Deck Size: 26 25.5

Turn and win stats:

Average Turns: 16.4185
1Smithy: 4966 49.60%
BigMoney: 1745 17.40%
Ties: 3289 32.80%

GardenWorkshop vs. 1Smithy

Deck stats:

GardenWorkshop 1Smithy
Average Buying Power: 11.7 36
Average Deck Size: 38.1 28

Turn and win stats:

Average Turns: 19.517
GardenWorkshop: 8808 88.00%
1Smithy: 1192 11.90%
Ties: 0 0.00%

GardenWorkshop vs. BigMoney

Deck stats:

GardenWorkshop BigMoney
Average Buying Power: 11.6 40.3
Average Deck Size: 38 28.1

Turn and win stats:

Average Turns: 19.5507
GardenWorkshop: 9702 97.00%
BigMoney: 298 2.90%
Ties: 0 0.00%


BigMoney is a pretty good strategy. It can end the game pretty quickly and it racks up provinces pretty fast.

1Smithy improves on that by getting those extra cards when you draw the Smithy. I tried 2Smithy, 3Smithy, etc. but they all performed worse than 1Smithy.

I was surprised just how much better 1Smithy performs over BigMoney. 50% win rate / 33% tie rate is quite good.

The most unexpected result from this initial data was just how good GardenWorkshop performed. It completely blows both BigMoney and 1Smithy out of the water.

Next time you play me in Dominion, you know what strategy I’ll go =]

I’d love to hear other strategies you want me to code up. Leave a comment if you like!

6 thoughts on “Dominion Strategies

  1. bj


    There are also some good stats on You can view your personal stats and winningness vs card advantage stats. :)

  2. matt

    you are not “any nerd”. you are probably a “super nerd”. :)

    anyway, i’m interested to see how good a chapel-laboratory strat fares… and whether or not there’s a strategy that can beat it out (without using attack cards)

  3. jw

    I haven’t played dominion in a while but it seems that from the strategies so far, the game is “unbalanced”. =P

  4. Amos91

    I see your page is similar to my weblog. Do you allow guest posts?
    I can write high quality articles for you. Let me know if you are interested.

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